"Valentina wake up."

I fidgeted in my sleep as I heard different sets of voices calling my name. Slowly opening my eyes because my head hurt and the sun was too bright, the first person I saw was Ryder.

"Ryder," I croaked out and I heard him sigh in relief and clutch me to his chest. "What happened?" I asked as I sat up.

"You fainted during practice. Do you have any idea why?" Ryder inquired.

"Did you eat anything today?" My coach asked next. I felt Ryder tense up at the same moment I did and that's when I realized that I forgot to eat today. I shook me head no and my coach groaned along with Ryder. I handed Ryder my keys voluntarily when he asked for them because even I knew there was no use in arguing.

"Want to tell me what the hell just happened?" Ryder angrily asked me once he pulled out of the parking lot.

"What? I forgot to eat okay? Relax it won't happen again," I said defensively.

"Damn right it won't," he scoffed. Once we stopped at a stoplight, which took forever, he turned to look at me worriedly. "I'm going to ask you a question and I need you to be honest with me okay?" I nodded my head for him to continue. "Are you anorexic?"

"WHAT?" I shout. "NO!"

"Then why haven't you been eating?"

"I swear to you I'm not anorexic. I've just been under a lot of stress lately if you haven't noticed. I've had a loss in appetite, but I promise you I don't have an eating disorder, it's just the stress getting ... to ... me ... " I say in parts because tears start welling up in my eyes.

"Ah hell," he muttered before pulling to the side of the road. Ryder stared at me for a couple moments silently. I matched his stare, but the then tears started to spill and I couldn't keep them in any longer. Ryder immediately pulled me forward into a tight hug and I just sobbed on his shoulder.

"Ryder ... I'm so scared," I confessed.

"You don't need to be scared anymore," he whispered in my ear while stroking my hair.

I leaned away from him. "How can I not be scared? Some weirdo is stalking me. Watching me. He knows things about me that no one but my family, Arden, and Tyler, are supposed to know about. How can I feel safe when he is able to find out everything about me?"

"I won't let anything happen to you. I promise," he deadpanned.

"You can't promise that. No one can promise me that I'll be safe. He's managed to get past you and the FBI sitting on my house. You're wasting your time. I'm more trouble than I'm worth," I shrugged.

"How can you say that about yourself?"

"Why do you care? You seem so intent on making sure I'm protected all the while keeping me at arms length. You can't really sit there and expect me to believe you when you tell me I'm worth the trouble?" I cried.

"Let's not do this now please," he pleaded.

"Why not? I think it's the perfect time to address the elephant in the room Ryder," I commented after wiping my eyes.

"Valentina I-" he began before his phone rang. "We'll talk about this later." He looked sternly at his phone and answered it after I huffed out a frustrated breath.

"Lieutenant Reynolds." Ryder paused as the person on the other end started talking. His gaze flew over to me concerned and I felt my stomach drop. "What? ... When? ... How could you let that happen? ... Critical? ... Shit, we'll be right over. Thanks, bye."

"What happened?" I hesitantly asked.

"Someone broke into your house ... "

"Okay that's happened before. Let's get over there now," I tried feigning calmness. He stared at me and it started to freak me out. "What? What aren't you telling me?"

"Valen, Jeremy was in the house when the intruder came in," Ryder said slowly.

"Oh my God ... "

"He's on his way to the hospital," he continued. I was stunned silent and Ryder started to drive towards the hospital my brother was taken to. My mind was racing in too many directions and I couldn't tell what Ryder had said when I saw his mouth moving. His facial expression grew worried and I couldn't make an effort to change my attitude. We reached the hospital ten minutes later and my heart rate grew faster as I realized that my brother could be seriously hurt. I stopped right next to the car door and Ryder came around and waited patiently as I ran through all my thoughts. I grabbed his hand and walked us through the hospital doors. Once I saw my parents, I released his hand and rushed over to them.

"How's Jer?" I asked.

"He's fine. Just a mild concussion querida," my mother responded. I breathed out a sigh of relief and leaned back against Ryder's chest which was directly behind me.

"Can I see him?" My father called over a nurse and she brought me to my brother's room. His face lit up with happiness at my arrival and I gave him a giant hug.

"Are you alright? God, this is all my fault. I-"

"Oh would you shut up already. It's not your fault. The fucker hit me over the head with a lamp. Coward couldn't even look me in the face before he took me down," Jeremy scoffed with amusement in his voice.

"Oh I'm glad you can make light of this situation. Nice to see you're making this a joke," I said sarcastically.

"Hey, I'm fine okay? Might as well make fun of what happened, I'm alive and kicking. It'll take a lot more than a lamp to the head to kill me." 

I sent him a glare and he just laughed. He signed some discharge papers, and within the next hour we were headed back home. When we went back into the waiting room to meet up with my parents, I noticed that Ryder was still there also. My parents left with Jeremy and I stayed behind a few minutes with Ryder.

"I'm surprised you stayed," I whispered.

"Are you serious? A lunatic just broke into your house and assaulted your brother and you actually think I'd be anywhere, but at your side?" Ryder replied in disbelief.

"I guess not. But since we're already here, do you mind waiting a while longer, I'd like to see a doctor real quick," I asked with a faint blush.

"Oh, right. The fainting thing," he realized.

I cleared my throat. "Okay, if we want this to work we have to be honest with each other right?" I asked hesitantly.

"Yes, of course," he groaned out. 

"Okay well then I'm not seeing a doctor because of what happened earlier," I confirmed.

"Then what are you seeing a doctor for?" Ryder crossed his arms, making his muscles ripple and my eyes grow dark with heat.

"Well just because we're honest with each other doesn't mean you're privy to knowing everything about me," I laughed.

"Fair enough," he smiled weakly. 

I asked him to wait where he was, and I walked my way over to the OBGYN wing of the hospital. I checked with the front desk of the wing to see if my gynecologist was available for a quick consult, and she was so I was directed to her office. Dr. Shapiro and I exchanged pleasantries when I walked in and sat down.

"Everything I say is under that doctor patiently confidentiality clause right?" I asked for measure.

"Of course, so what brings you into my office today Valentina?" she kindly asked.

"Well you see... there's this boy I like and well... what I'm saying is... I want to go on the Pill," I explained.


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